In March, Venezuela took delivery of its first batch of six K-8W trainers from a total of 18 ordered following a 2006 U.S. embargo on the country. Discussing the order, and his plans to acquire additional aircraft, President Hugo Chavez said that 18 K-8s had been purchased for $82 million. Chavez also signalled his intention to double that fleet to (at least) 36 aircraft. When that happens, Venezuela will be one of the largest users of the K-8, which has now been sold to 12 countries outside China. Venezuela’s air force is unique in using the K-8 to train pilots to fly a mix of U.S.- and Russian-built combat aircraft, such as the F-16 and Su-30MK. In Venezuelan service, the K-8W is equipped for weapons training and light attack missions. A significant weapons package, including PL-5 air-to-air missiles, was supplied to Venezuela along with its aircraft.
In April the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of the first of 12 Chengdu F-7NI fighters and three FT-7NI trainers it ordered from China in 2005. Most of Nigeria’s previous combat aircraft, largely acquired from the UK (Jaguar) and Russia (MiG-21), are non-operational so the arrival of the new Chinese aircraft signals a return to operational flying for the NAF’s combat arm. Nigeria’s complete package of aircraft and weapons reportedly cost $252 million. Included in the purchase were a number of PL-9C air-to-air missiles, making Nigeria one of the very few acknowledged export users of this missile.